Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Stuck in the Psychedelic Era # 1604 (starts 1/20/16)
Title: So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star
Source: Mono LP: Younger Than Yesterday
By early 1967 there was a building resentment among musicians and rock press alike concerning the instant (and in some eyes unearned) success of the Monkees. One notable expression of this resentment was the Byrds' So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star, which takes a somewhat sarcastic look at what it takes to succeed in the music business. Unfortunately, much of what they talk about in the song continues to apply today (although the guitar has been somewhat supplanted by the computer as the instrument of choice).
Artist: Rolling Stones
Title: 2,000 Light Years From Home
Source: Mono CD: Singles Collection-The London Years (originally released on LP: Their Satanic Majesties Request)
Nowhere was the ripple effect of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band more noticable than on the Rolling Stones fall 1967 release Their Satanic Majesties Request. The cover itself was a parody of Sgt. Pepper's, featuring the band members in various sorcerous regalia in a seven-inch picture on the kind of holographic paper used for "magic rings" found in bubble-gum machines and pasted over regular album-cover stock, which was a simple pattern of faded white circles on a blue background (it kind of looked like dark wallpaper). Musically it was the most psychedelic Stones album ever released. Interestingly enough, different songs were released as singles in different countries. In the US the single was She's A Rainbow, while in Germany 2,000 Light Years From Home (the US B side of She's A Rainbow) got significant airplay.
Artist: Left Banke
Title: Barterers And Their Wives
Source: 45 RPM single B side
The Left Banke made a huge impact with their debut single, Walk Away Renee, in late 1966. All of a sudden the rock press (such as it was in 1966) was all abuzz with talk of "baroque rock" and how it was the latest, greatest thing. The band soon released a follow-up single, Pretty Ballerina, which made the top 10 as well, which led to an album entitled (naturally enough) Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina, which featured several more songs in the same vein, such as Barterers And Their Wives, which was also released as a B side later that year. An unfortunate misstep by keyboardist Michael Brown, however, led to the Left Banke's early demise, and baroque rock soon went the way of other sixties fads.
Title: 14 Hour Technicolour Dream
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets II-Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond 1964-1969 (originally released in the UK as 45 RPM single B side)
Label: Rhino (original label: Deram)
Once upon a time there was an underground newspaper that got raided by the local police. In response, several local underground bands got together and staged a 14-hour long happening in support of the paper. As much as this sounds like a slice of San Francisco or maybe Los Angeles history, this actually happened in London, with such notable bands as Pink Floyd, the Pretty Things, the Creation, the Soft Machine, the Move, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and others contributing to what came to be called the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream at the Alexandria Palace on April 29-30, 1967. Later that year, mod band the Syn (formerly known as the Selfs) recorded a song celebrating the event and released it as the B side of their second single for Deram. The group disbanded in 1968, with members Peter Banks and Chris Squire eventually going on to form Yes in the early 1970s.
Title: Here, There And Everywhere
Source: CD: Revolver
Label: Parlophone (original US label: Capitol)
In the early days the Beatles did a lot of doubling up of vocals to achieve a fuller sound. This meant that the lead vocalist (usually John Lennon or Paul McCartney) would have to record a vocal track and then go back and sing in unison with his own recorded voice. The process, which Lennon in particular found tedious, often took several attempts to get right, making for long and exhausting recording sessions. In the spring of 1966 engineer Ken Townsend invented a process he called automatic double tracking that applied a tape delay to a single vocal to create the same effect as manual double tracking. The Beatles used the process for the first time on the Revolver album, on tracks like I'm Only Sleeping and Doctor Robert. Oddly enough, the song that sounds most like it used the ADT system, McCartney's Here, There And Everywhere, was actually two separate vocal tracks, as can be heard toward the end of the last verse when one of the vocals drops down to harmonize a few notes.
Artist: Young Rascals
Title: (I've Been) Lonely Too Long
Source: CD: The Best Of 60s Supergroups (originally released on LP: Collections and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Felix Cavalier
Label: Priority (original label: Atlantic)
The Young Rascals got off to a great start with Good Lovin' in 1966, but their next two singles were unable to crack the tp 20, and for a while it looked like the Rascals might end up being one-hit wonders. Then, in 1967, the Collections album was released, and the group's fortunes took a turn for the better. The first hit of the year was (I've Been) Lonely Too Long, a tune that went a long way toward establishing the Young Rascals as the premier "blue-eyed soul" band in the nation. Several more hits followed over the next two years, including People Got To Be Free, one of the most iconic songs of 1968.
Artist: Eric Burdon And The Animals
Title: White Houses
Source: CD: The Best Of Eric Burdon And The Animals (originally released on LP: Every One Of Us)
Writer(s): Eric Burdon
Label: Polydor (original label: M-G-M)
Following two strongly psychedelic LPs, Winds Of Change and The Twain Shall Meet, Eric Burdon And The Animals returned to a more blues-based approach for their late 1968 release Every One Of Us, adding keyboardist Zoot Money to the lineup in the process. A highlight of the self-produced album was White Houses, a tune that previews the direction Burdon's music would take in the early 1970s, both as a solo artist and with the band War.
Artist: J.K. & Co.
Source: CD: A Heavy Dose Of Lyte Psych (originally released on LP: Suddenly One Summer)
Writer(s): Jay Kaye
Label: Arf! Arf! (original label: White Whale)
By 1969, some of the glamor had worn off the drug scene, with Pot and LSD giving way to amphetamines and cocaine as the drug of choice among many users. Jay Kaye, an expatriate Canadian fronting his own band in Los Angeles, recorded the album Suddenly One Summer, including the song Fly, as a way of documenting the horrors of hard drug use. Although Suddenly One Summer was not a commercial success, J.K. & Co. deserve props for daring to go against the grain long before it became fashionable to eschew drug use.
Artist: Big Brother And The Holding Company
Title: Turtle Blues
Source: LP: Cheap Thrills
Writer(s): Janis Joplin
Sometimes I do play favorites. Turtle Blues, from the Big Brother And The Holding Company album Cheap Thrills, is certainly one of them. Besides vocalist Janis Joplin, who wrote the tune, the only other band member heard on the track is guitarist Peter Albin. Legendary producer John Simon provides the piano playing.
Artist: Marvin Gaye
Title: I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Source: CD: Billboard Top Rock 'N' Roll Hits-1968 (originally released on LP: In The Groove)
Label: Rhino (original label: Tamla)
I Heard It Through The Grapevine was originally recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, but Motown president Barry Gordy, Jr. refused to release the song, saying it needed to be stronger. Producer Norman Whitfield, who had co-written the song with Barrett Strong, then recorded a new version of the tune, this time using Marvin Gaye as vocalist. Gordy rejected this version as well. A third version of the song, with the tempo speeded up, was released by Gladys Knight and the Pips in late 1967 and climbed to the # 2 spot on the charts. Following the success of the Knight single, Gordy allowed Gaye's version to be included on his 1968 LP In The Groove, where it almost immediately began to get airplay. Gordy finally allowed this version to be released as a single in October of 1968, and it quickly climbed to the top of the charts, spending 7 weeks at # 1. In The Groove was retitled I Heard It Through The Grapevine and re-released in 1969, becoming Gaye's best selling album up to that point.
Artist: Beacon Street Union
Title: Baby, Please Don't Go
Source: LP: The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens
Writer(s): Joe Williams
One of the most popular club songs in the mid-1960s was an old Joe Williams blues tune called Baby, Please Don't Go. The song became popular among garage bands after Them released it as their first single in 1964, despite the fact that the record was not readily available in the US. The song became better known in the US when the Amboy Dukes included it on their debut LP in 1967, also releasing the track as a single. The following year the Beacon Street Union turned the tune into a 17-minute showcase of the individual members' talents on their second LP, The Clown Died In Marvin Gardens.
Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Title: Punky's Dilemma
Source: CD: Collected Works (originally released on LP: Bookends)
Writer(s): Paul Simon
Originally written specifically for the 1967 soundtrack of the movie The Graduate but rejected by the producers, Punky's Dilemma sat on the shelf until the following year, when it became the only track on side two of Simon And Garfunkel's Bookends LP that had not been previously released. The lyrics are about as psychedelic as Simon And Garfunkel ever got.
Title: Sunshine Superman
Source: British import CD: Psychedelia At Abbey Road (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer(s): Donovan Leitch
Up until the early 1970s there was an unwritten rule that stated that in order to get played on top 40 radio a song could be no more than three and a half minutes long. There were exceptions, of course, such as Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone, but as a general rule the policy was strictly adhered to. Sometimes an artist would record a song that exceeded the limit but nonetheless was considered to have commercial potential. In cases like these the usual practice was for the record company (or sometimes the producer of the record) to create an edited version of the master recording for release as a single. Usually in these cases the original unedited version of the song would appear on an album. In the case of Donovan's Sunshine Superman, however, the mono single version was used for the album as well, possibly because the album itself was never issued in stereo. In fact, it wasn't until 1969 that the full-length original recording of Sunshine Superman was made available as a track on Donovan's first Greatest Hits collection. This was also the first time the song had appeared in stereo, having been newly mixed for that album. An even newer mix was made in 1998 and is included on a British anthology album called Psychedelia At Abbey Road. This version takes advantage of digital technology and has a slightly different sound than previous releases of the song.
Title: You Really Got Me
Source: 45 RPM single (reissue)
Writer(s): Ray Davies
Label: Eric (original label: Reprise)
You Really Got Me has been described as the first hard rock song and the track that invented heavy metal. You'll get no argument from me on either of those.
Title: So What!!
Source: Mono CD: Nuggets-Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Chris Gaylord
Label: Rhino (original label: Era)
In some ways the story of the Lyrics is fairly typical for the mid-1960s. The Carlsbad, California group had already established itself as a competent if somewhat bland cover band when in 1964 they recruited the local cool kid, Chris Gaylord (who was so cool that he had his own beat up old limo, plastered on the inside with Rolling Stones memorabilia, of course), to be their frontman. Gaylord provided the band with a healthy dose of attitude, as demonstrated by their 1965 single So What!! The song was written by Gaylord after he had a brief fling with a local rich girl. Gaylord's tenure lasted until mid-1966. Although the band continued without him, they never again saw the inside of a recording studio.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono LP: Nuggets Vol. 2-Punk (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
If ever a song could be considered a garage-punk anthem, it's Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White, the follow-up single to the classic Dirty Water. Both songs were written by Standells' manager/producer Ed Cobb, the record industry's answer to Ed Wood.
Artist: 13th Floor Elevators
Source: British import CD: Easter Everywhere
Label: Charly (original label: International Artists)
The first album by the 13th Floor Elevators has long been considered a milestone, in that it was one of the first truly psychedelic albums ever released (and the first to actually use the word "psychedelic" in the title). For their followup LP, the group decided to take their time, going through some personnel changes in the process. Still, the core membership of Roky Erickson, Tommy Hall and Stacy Sutherland held it together long enough to complete Easter Everywhere, releasing the album in 1967. The idea behind the album was to present a spiritual vision that combined both Eastern and Western religious concepts in a rock context. For the most part, such as on tracks like Levitation, it succeeds remarkably well, considering the strife the band was going through at the time.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: Super Bird
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released on LP: Electric Music For The Mind And Body)
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rhino (original label: Vanguard)
Country Joe and the Fish, from Berkeley, California, were one of the first rock bands to incorporate political satire into their music. Their I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag is one of the most famous protest songs ever written. Superbird is even heavier on the satire than the Rag. The song, from the band's debut LP, puts president Lyndon Johnson, whose wife was known as "Ladybird", in the role of a comic book superhero.
Title: House For Everyone
Source: CD: Heaven Is In Your Mind (aka Mr. Fantasy)
Writer(s): Dave Mason
Label: Island (original label: United Artists)
Although Traffic is now known mostly as a Steve Winwood band, many of their earliest songs were the creation of guitarist Dave Mason, whose songs tended to be a bit more psychedelic than Winwood's. One example is House For Everyone from the band's 1967 debut LP, which creatively uses tape edits to simulate a music box being wound up with short snippets of song sneaking through between turns of the key at the beginning of the track.
Artist: Moody Blues
Title: Every Good Boy Deserves Favor-side two
Source: LP: Every Good Boy Deserves Favor
The Moody Blues are probably the first rock band to become known for doing nothing but concept albums, starting with the 1967 LP Days Of Future Past. Their 1971 album, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, is no exception, as each song on the LP leads directly into the next track. The second side of the LP consists of four songs, each one written by a different member of the group (a tactic that Pink Floyd was exploring at around the same time). The first of these is One More Time To Live, written by John Lodge. This is followed by Nice To Be Here, a Ray Thomas composition, and You Can Never Go Home, a tune from the pen of Justin Hayward. The album ends with My Song, written by Mike Pinder. Each song on the album is sung by the member that wrote the tune; despite this, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor maintains a consistency of sound throughout.
Title: Ritual Fire Dance
Source: Mono British import CD: Love, Poetry And Revolution
Writer(s): de Falla/arr. Hodges
After a series of unsuccessful singles for various labels from 1965-1969, Tuesday's Children decided to abandon light pop for a more progressive sound, changing their name to Czar in the process. Czar's debut LP came out in May of 1970, but it was missing one track due to difficulties over publishing rights: an adaptation of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance that the group had recorded in February of that year, about a month after their first gig using their new name.
Artist: Steve Miller Band
Title: Brave New World
Source: LP: Homer soundtrack (originally released on LP: Brave New World)
Writer(s): Steve Miller
Label: Cotillion (original label: Capitol)
It took the Steve Miller Band half a dozen albums (plus appearances on a couple of movie soundtracks) to achieve star status in the early 1970s. Along the way they developed a cult following that added new members with each successive album. The fourth Miller album was Brave New World, the title track of which was used in the film Homer, a 1970 film that is better remembered for its soundtrack than for the film itself.
Artist: Brass Buttons
Title: Hell Will Take Care Of Her
Source: Mono CD: My Mind Goes High (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Jay Copozzi
Label: Warner Strategic Marketing (original label: Cotillion)
Rochester, New York, was home to both guitarist Gene Cornish and a band called the Brass Buttons. Cornish, who had been born in Ottawa, Canada, left Rochester for New York City in the early 1960s, eventually co-founding the most successful blue-eyed soul band in history, the (Young) Rascals. By 1968 the Rascals had formed their own production company, Peace, and Cornish invited his friends from the Brass Buttons to record a pair of songs for Peace. The recordings, including a scathing breakup song called Hell Will Take Care Of Her, were released on Atlantic's Cotillion subsidiary in 1968.